Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hospitality

One of my greatest sources of insecurity as a woman is when it comes to entertaining. I love having people in my home, but have had to work on making it feel effortless and enjoyable. 

I can become so afraid I have forgotten some detail in my presentation that I forget to simply enjoy the guests and make sure they are comfortable. The problem seems to be when it becomes more about me (my plans, my presentation, my ability to please) than about the guests in my home. I want them to feel honored, expected and treated well, but not at the expense of our ability to chat, laugh and enjoy our time together.

This has gotten a lot better over the last couple of years--largely due to practice. Like most things, I had to simply decide to get out there and do it. I have found that having a system of sorts (a couple of go to dishes, buffet set up, even how to best manage clean up) helps me relax tremendously. 

I still have a ways to go in terms of 'loving' to entertain...but I am learning that advance preparation of my home and my heart--and an emphasis on my guests over perfection or impressiveness of my presentation-- go a long way.

I have never done a Biblical study of this topic, but a quick Internet search revealed many resources. I think some reading on hospitality may be next on my list! As I read through some of the book reviews I loved the focus on living a hospitable life...not just having a hospitable home.

Would love to hear any tips that help you feel like a more gracious lady...

16 comments:

Renee said...

I can't wait to read the comments you get! I need help in this area too. With our houseful of boys and another on the way, it's hard to feel prepared when we have people over, and I used to want everything just so. I have learned that this is our home that we live in. A little (ok, a lot) of dirt is just part of who we are. I don't want it so clean that people see us as something we're not. Does that make sense? Sure, we pick up, but we still make sure it appears like our home. But for the record, we do major cleaning, just not everytime someone is coming over.

k and c's mom said...

You read my mind today. I have become so convicted that I need to have people into my home: it is just so easy to always meet friends at restaurants. Back when I did entertain a lot (and my goal is to begin again!), I always had the food ready ahead of time so I could enjoy the guests totally. A station for food, a station for tea/water/coffee, music playing, candles and flowers and the mood is set. I am excited to see what your readers contribute here...(PS: Happy Summer! My last day in first grade was yesterday!)

Phillips Phamily Mama said...

Look into Apples of Gold. It's a group Bible study about this very topic. Our group had two mentoring "moms" who organized everything, lead the discussion/Bible study and complied recipes week to week from all the participants. By the end of the study, you have an entire cookbook of tried and true recipes!

Arlene Grimm said...

After almost 34 years of marriage i am finally learning to enjoy entertaining. I have so many friends who are aces at it and I always felt rather intimidated. I have come to realize that people just enjoy being in your home. The fellowship is so much more important than the food, the table scape, the roominess of my home!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

I am very much like you and really have to work on this.

www.reluctantentertainer.com is a good blog and there's a mom in Cape Town who blogged a beautiful series on practically being ready to entertain

www.se7en.org.za

HW said...

Having company is about showing hospitality not showing our homes. But I didn't always embrace that idea.

I have struggled with this in the past and finally lowered my standards a great deal when I realized what my family went through every time I was preparing for guests. It was as though I expected them to stop living in our home just so I could make it perfect for others "no juice!!!" "Pick up those toys, company's coming" "no we cannot play with play dough; we're having company is six hours..."

I am a much more relaxed and eager hostess now. And my mantra: presentation is everyhing when it comes to food. Purchase what you can and put it in a pretty basket or on a nice platter.

I still get caught up in how my friends entertain because some of them do insist on making things ready for a photo shoot. I do cave in to the fear of being judged that my style is more casual. But then I realize how much happier my family is since I've adopted my new "low standards" attitude and feel my way is best for our home.

I'm interested in seeing how others address the issue of clean up when guests are present. My husband and I clear the table and stack dishes by the sink. We wait to load the dishwasher, etc after our guests are gone. I know others who do every bit of clean up while guests are still present but this seems to take away time from socializing.

stephanie@{Olive Tree} said...

You might check out this blog: http://offeringhospitality.blogspot.com/ and talks about all this that you mentioned. Very encouraging!

Love Being a Nonny said...

Flowers, a bath towel wrapped with a ribbon laying on the end of the bed and the coffee cups set out beside the pot are little things that mean so much to overnight guests. (I also have a basket in my guest bathroom filled with extra toothbrushes, soaps, dental floss, etc. Some of them came from hotel stays!) Also, planning an *outside* gathering is so much easier somehow!!! Can't wait to read other responses! (Oh, and if your guests are traveling when they leave your home, have a bag ready with bottled water, cookies (store bought is fine), mints, etc. It's the last thing they'll remember about their stay!

Nikki said...

We don't 'entertain' so much as 'have people over.' It just sets up a more relaxed attitude from the get-go. I have several go-to recipes (shrimp pilau from Charleston Receipts Repeats) that can be prepared ahead of time and have the house smelling good by the time friends arrive.

Someone told us long ago that when we were guests in his home, he did not expect us to help clean up and he did not expect to clean up when he was a guest in our home. But, we can't seem to keep our friends from helping in the kitchen when dinner is done. Someone always helps gather dishes while I serve dessert.

I love Nonny's suggestion for making out-of-town guests feel welcome, especially the 'gift bag' for when they're getting back on the road.

Jawan said...

I found this book to be extremely helpful in my journey to relaxing when being hospitable. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=azs_osd_firefox?tag=amznsearchff-20&link_code=qs&index=aps&field-keywords=heaven+at+home+ginger

The author lives in Opelika and is such a sweet, down-to-earth mom. This book stays on my night stand!

Tee and Hubby said...

We love to entertain, but get caught up in preparing lots of food, desserts, etc. and end up nearly dead and can't enjoy our company. If you ?

-J said...

I love this definition of hospitality I learned in college - making people feel welcome in your space - even if it's in the college cafeteria.

Also, I love this book which emphasizes hospitality over entertainment, and takes into account different seasons of life (including different budgets). A Christian Woman's Guide to Hospitality by Quin Sherrer and Laura Watson.

Christine said...

You may have already encountered her but look into anything by Emilie Barnes on the subject. She is a delight!

Jennifer said...

Your Home: A Place of Grace, by Susan Hunt is a great book.

Pam said...

I am the same way, but haven't opened up enough for guests to be a regular thing. This is an area that I feel I need to work on too. Thanks for the prompting, I needed it too.
Pam

Wendy said...

I just wrote about this recently too. I want so much to have an open home, not just when it's convenient for me, but for God's purposes.